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Georgia Department of Education partners with Harvard University to offer school improvement training for districts

MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office,, 404-463-4246

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September 3, 2019 – As part of the state’s efforts to offer services and supports to help all schools improve, the Georgia Department of Education’s Office of School Improvement is partnering with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University to offer training for 10 school districts.


Proving Ground Institute, a program of the Harvard CEPR, works with school districts to help them identify and test solutions to specific challenges that are obstacles to student achievement. Proving Ground uses a continuous improvement approach to help districts learn to gather and use evidence rapidly and effectively. 


“In Georgia, we are committed to continuous improvement and providing high-quality services and supports so all schools can prepare their students for successful futures,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This partnership with Harvard’s Proving Ground provides a crucial support to educational leaders as they address some of the most serious issues facing their school districts.”


At a four-day Proving Ground training, 50 staff members from 10 districts identified for additional support will engage in an intensive, four-day professional development workshop with instruction, coaching, and action planning, and receive additional coaching following the in-person workshop.


The training will focus on equipping districts to select interventions, and how to know those interventions are backed by evidence.


To put what they’re learning into practice, the district teams will review their data on student attendance and chronic absenteeism and learn about evidence-based strategies that have improved student attendance. By the end of the institute, district teams will identify a specific problem related to chronic absenteeism in their district, identify solutions to address the problem, and develop a detailed action plan for a selected solution they can implement in their districts. 


The Georgia Department of Education’s Office of School Improvement works to provide tiered and tailored supports to help all schools improve — from Tier I Universal Supports offered every school in the state, to more intensive assistance offered for identified schools. This new partnership with Harvard is an addition to GaDOE’s menu of offerings to support effective leadership in school districts, joining efforts such as the Governor’s School Leadership Academy, a partnership with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and Gwinnett County Public Schools.​